Are elevated toilet seats the answer?
by Dr. Sue Zohar Desheh
We recently heard that a lower toilet is preferable for certain toilet activities. I think that elevated toilet seats for the elderly are preferable.
A recent gathering of house-mothers at retirement homes suggested low toilet seats. Can you comment on this please?
We would be most appreciative of your response. REPLY from Caring-for-Aging-Parents.com
Thank you for your question, Dr. Desheh. The standard toilet is built quite low. I've never understood why as getting up and down from a lower surface is always more difficult than getting up and down from a higher surface.
From many years of working with elderly and recommending bathroom products for the elderly, I can say without a doubt that elevated toilet seats are beneficial for the elderly population.
As people age, they generally lose flexibility and strength. Balance can be an issue, particularly if a senior is on a lot of medications.
For all these reasons, having a higher surface to get up and down from makes it easier and safer.
Of all the times I have worked with the elderly, I have never heard an instance where a lower toilet seat is needed for any part of toileting other than if they are extremely short or need to transfer from a wheelchair.
I have had some men require a larger opening to fit their periarea better, but have not encountered the elderly preferring a lower toilet seat.
Even the higher toilets are usually a good height for shorter seniors.
There are different ways to make a toilet seat higher:
An elevated (raised) toilet seat might be needed if you have a couple where one spouse is very tall and the other is very short. This way, the elevated toilet seat can be put on and off if needed.
It sounds like in the case of the senior's building, they are considering making a building-wide change. If so, I would encourage them to consider changing regular height toilets for higher toilets.
This would be the safest and easiest for seniors to use.
There are other bathroom products for the elderly that might be useful for improving toilet safety: